Active neighborhood associations have long fought to preserve the San Francisco’s character and respond to changing dynamics that influence neighborhood quality of life for residents, tourists, workers, property owners, and business owners.
The Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council (HANC) was founded to stop a proposed freeway expansion that would have destroyed the Panhandle green belt and parts of Golden Gate Park. It continues to fight development that threatens the unique historical attributes of the neighborhood.
Haight Ashbury Improvement Association (HAIA) is a joint resident-merchant association. One of its aims is to build a thriving neighborhood business sector that is not overly dependent on the ups and downs of tourism.
Cole Valley Improvement Association (CVIA) evolved from a Cole Street residents’ group, who established the greater neighborhood organization in response to a second-generation wave of youth seeking a Summer of Love lifestyle in the late 1980s. It helped end then-Mayor Art Agnos’ policy of allowing car camping along the Panhandle. CVIA takes the position that the best way to maintain a healthy neighborhood is to support a thriving mixed-use district served by local, independent businesses.
Formed by local independent merchants, H.I.P. sought to increase profits by catering to the growing counterculture movement. The group sponsored the Human Be-In on January 24, 1967, an event that garnered nationwide media coverage and contributed to the influx that peaked in the Summer of Love. H.I.P.’s capitalistic approach conflicted with the Diggers’ anti-property ethos.
Haight Ashbury Merchants Association (HAMA) brings together business owners who want to beautify the Haight for their customers and residents alike. The organization sponsors the annual holiday lights decoration, and recommends improvements such as parklets, streetscaping, and pedestrian pathways.
Haight Ashbury Free Clinics (HAFC), formerly known as Youth Projects
Dr. David Smith launched his practice David E. Smith & Associates, DBA the “Haight Ashbury Free Clinic,” on June 7, 1967. Grounded in the principle “Health care is a right not a privilege,” the clinic’s volunteer physicians, nurses, and other practitioners provided nonjudgmental medical and psychological services for the youth who came to San Francisco. As the drugs of choice shifted from pot and psychedelics to heroin and cocaine, the clinic pioneered the treatment of addiction as a disease. It now operates under the umbrella of HealthRIGHT 360, a family of programs providing medical and psychological services in 13 California counties, including San Francisco.
Before there was Craigslist or Google, there was the Haight-Ashbury Switchboard. Headquartered initially in the basement apartment of founder Al Rinker, the Switchboard was a collective of volunteers who pointed newcomers to the resources they needed from free medical care, volunteer lawyers, and crash pads. It also provided the means for runaways to receive messages from their parents and make occasional phone calls home. Switchboard volunteers also published a 50-plus page how-to booklet called the Survival Manual. The Switchboard had several headquarters over the years, on Page Street, Haight Street, Howard Street, Mission Street, and even the car of a determined volunteer.
During the Summer of Love in 1967, young people from all over the United States flooded the neighborhood. Many of them left behind troubled homes, but brought their personal difficulties with them. Most were unprepared to provide for their food, clothing, shelter. Huckleberry House offered non-judgmental support to help them get their lives together. Today, Huckleberry House partners with adolescents to overcome all kinds of adversity including substance abuse, mental health, sexual health, and navigating the social welfare system.
Walden House was founded in 1969 as a residential and outpatient substance abuse and mental health treatment center. It later contracted with the criminal justice system to offer recovery services to people leaving jail or prison. In 2011, Walden House merged with the Haight Ashbury Free Clinics. Both operate under the auspices of HealthRIGHT 360.
Haight Ashbury Senior Services
The Diggers, who took their name from the 17th Century Protestant radicals in England, espoused taking the material surplus generated by upper- and middle-class American society and distributing it to the poor for free. In the Haight Ashbury, Diggers provided or arranged for free food, transportation, temporary housing, and medical care as well as arts and musical events. Affiliated with the San Francisco Mime Troupe, the Diggers also used political street theater to publicize their messages about raising consciousness and building community. The legacy of their food distribution effort lives on in the Haight Ashbury Food Program, a neighborhood program founded in 1980 to support the principle that freedom from hunger is a right not a privilege.
The Food Conspiracy was a collection of household bulk food buying clubs. Instead of purchasing high-priced, commercially marketed foods from supermarkets, these groups purchased fresh produce and then-exotic goods such as whole grain flours, garbanzo beans, and brown rice from various suppliers. These households presaged today’s farm produce delivery services.
Haight Ashbury Community Store
Food Conspiracy – white panthers @ oak & cole
Haight Ashbury Food Program
Tenants’ Action Group – see if Tenants Union website says anything
Haight Ashbury Legal Organization (HALO) – Michael Stepanian, Terry Hallinan, Brian Rohan –
Lawyers Michael Stepanian and Brian Rohan saw an opportunity and opened their offices directly across the street from the Grateful Dead house at 710 Ashbury Street.
Founded in 1971, the St. John Will-I-Am Coltrane African Orthodox Church recognizes the musician John Coltrane as its patron saint. Over the years, the Church has held weekly services; fed, clothed, and counseled the homeless; and offered music classes and computer classes to the community. The Church operated at 351 Divisadero Street for over 30 years, until it was evicted in 2006, as the neighborhood rents rose. It is currently located nearby at 2097 Turk Street.
The church was founded at Waller Street in 1901 by the Methodist Episcopal Church (North). Its first building was competed in 1905 and destroyed by the Great Quake of 1906. Architect and civil engineer Julia Morgan designed the current campus, completing the sanctuary in 1908 and adding a gymnasium in 1923. From 1961 until it closed its doors in 2008, the church founded a number of ministries that grew to serve the larger community. The United Methodist Church operates a retreat center, the Waller Center, at the site. Hamilton Families remains the only 24-hour family center in the city.
David Talbot’s Season of the Witch describes the Good Earth commune as “a sprawling network of hippie houses in the Haight-Ashbury—made up of tough ex-cons, Vietnam veterans and street runaways—that fought to save that essential San Francisco neighborhood from heroin dealers, rogue cops and the wrecking balls of the city’s redevelopment agency.”
Kerista, the commune that introduced “polyfidelity” (fidelity to multiple romantic partners) to the lexicon, was headquartered in Cole Valley, just south of Haight Street. Its members lived in a set of residential buildings, including the Purple Submarine, then painted psychedelic lavender. In the 1980s, Kerista joined the computer revolution, launching an authorized Macintosh dealership called Abacus, which made the Inc. 1000 list of up-and-coming companies. Kerista disbanded in 1991.
When asked what white people could do to support the Black Panthers, Huey P. Newton said that they should form their own revolutionary party. Pun Plamondon, Leni Sinclair, and John Sinclair took the baton, forming the White Panther Party in Michigan. The Bay Area contingent was led by Tom Stevens and Ron Landberg. The White Panthers hosted public musical events through as the People’s Ballroom, occasionally having run-ins over permits with the City of San Francisco.